How Finance Teams Can Embrace Automation and Bid Farewell to Manual Processes

Are manual processes consuming too much time for your finance team? Could automation offer a solution, freeing up valuable time? Ideally, as a CFO or financial manager, your finance team should play a strategic role in supporting you, the CEO, and leadership teams in making crucial business decisions that shape the future. However, what if … Continued

Are manual processes consuming too much time for your finance team?

Could automation offer a solution, freeing up valuable time?

Ideally, as a CFO or financial manager, your finance team should play a strategic role in supporting you, the CEO, and leadership teams in making crucial business decisions that shape the future.

However, what if you find yourself lacking the time to focus on these essential tasks?

What if you’re spending over 10 days each month on financial closes, reviewing and reconciling records?

Perhaps you’re grappling with monthly, quarterly, or annual audits.

For many businesses today, navigating through these cycles involves considerable repetitive work due to time-consuming manual processes.

This article explores how you and your finance team can bid adieu to manual procedures through the adoption of automation.

Challenges Posed by Manual Processes for Finance Teams

Managing processes such as issuing and processing invoices, budget tracking, and financial reporting can be incredibly time-consuming for finance teams.

As your business expands and processes become more intricate, reliance on manual data entry, cumbersome spreadsheets, and time-consuming workarounds becomes commonplace.

Regardless of your finance department’s proficiency, any system reliant on manual data input is inherently slow and prone to human error.

Every transfer of physical documents introduces the risk of misinterpretation, misplacement, or misunderstanding, amplifying the potential for errors.

For companies handling significant volumes of invoices monthly, even minor errors can translate into substantial losses.

Manual processing also leads to a lack of control and visibility, hindering informed decision-making and creating vulnerabilities to fraud.

The Drawbacks of Spreadsheets in the Financial Close Process

Spreadsheets offer affordability and flexibility, making them a staple in finance departments.

However, a notable drawback is the need to input calculations as formulas, necessitating familiarity with specific formulae for desired calculations.

This reliance on formulas poses challenges, particularly in the context of financial close processes.

Training individuals to use these formulas consumes time, and some users may still find them daunting.

Moreover, inputting incorrect formulas or data into a cell can render all related calculations erroneous.

Large spreadsheets are prone to input or formula errors, which are time-consuming to identify and can have severe consequences if left unaddressed.

While additional spreadsheets can be appended as needed, their complexity increases over time, resulting in more maintenance time.

As spreadsheets become more intricate, making changes or modifications becomes increasingly challenging, jeopardising data integrity.

The Advantages of Automation in Streamlining Processes

Integration of automation into financial processes can yield significant benefits, including reduced close times, enhanced agility, lower costs, improved productivity, fewer delays, reduced errors, and increased focus on strategic activities, business growth, and success.

Automation has the potential to shrink the financial close period to three to five days or even eliminate it entirely.

In the future, full automation of all finance team processes might be attainable, with real-time data obviating the need for periodic closes.

Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses can leverage real-time trend-spotting capabilities to identify material changes, replacing the need for quarterly forecasting.

Crucially, automating routine assurance and accounting tasks allows finance teams to redirect their efforts towards strategic initiatives.

Adopting Automation in Financial Processes: Key Steps

For those considering automation implementation, here are some recommended steps:

Identify Automation Needs:

Understand the areas within your finances that could benefit most from automation, such as reconciliation, a resource-intensive process for finance offices.

Automate reconciliation processes using financial management software, enabling automatic matching of regular payments to invoices.

Utilise artificial intelligence (AI) for matching one-off or discrete payments, reducing manual effort and time.

Develop a Business Case:

Evaluate the economic viability of automation opportunities and determine the return on investment.

Collaborate with relevant stakeholders to create a compelling business case.

Secure Management Buy-in:

Educate stakeholders about the benefits of automation and garner support from leadership teams.

Demonstrate how automation can streamline workflows and enhance productivity, enabling employees to focus on high-value tasks.

Engage IT Support:

Collaborate with the IT team to ensure smooth implementation of automation solutions.

Start with small-scale automation initiatives and gradually expand them to acclimatise the business to technological changes.

Monitor Progress:

Establish a clear automation roadmap and closely monitor progress.

Work closely with employees to gauge their adoption of new technology and measure the effectiveness of new processes.

Leveraging AI for Future Forecasting

Automation, a subset of AI, operates on pre-defined rules to execute processes.

Future advancements may introduce more sophisticated AI systems incorporating machine learning for self-learning capabilities.

Forward-thinking finance teams will harness data science and AI for predictive forecasting, leveraging real-time insights for informed decision-making.

Today, AI aids small businesses in cash flow forecasting, while larger SaaS businesses utilise AI for renewal forecasting.

AI empowers finance teams to identify transaction anomalies in real-time, enhancing fraud detection and ensuring accuracy amidst vast transaction volumes.

Embrace Automation for Enhanced Efficiency and Strategic Focus

By embracing automation, finance teams can transcend the limitations of manual processes and redirect their focus towards strategic initiatives and business growth.

Automation not only streamlines workflows but also enhances accuracy, reduces errors, and fosters agility.

As the finance landscape evolves, leveraging automation and AI will become indispensable for staying competitive and driving innovation.


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